I desperately want to be freed from religion. I grew up religious; I trained for a religious career; I’ve traveled and been exposed to most of the world’s major religions. I’m done.
I have never been more finished with religion than I am today, and I have never been more in love with Christ either. I like how Paul said it:
"I consider all my religious background as animal poop compared to the greatness of knowing Jesus." - Phil 3, Paraphrase
By religion…I am referring to any system of belief that compels people to please a deity with rules, rituals, systems, and moral behavior. Religion is all concerned with the way we behave. It is rooted in the concept that God is good, we are not, and we need to act better. Religion is like a heavy backpack we wear that constantly reminds us we are not good enough, and we never do enough. And, it seems the more devoutly religious we are, the more we need to obsess on what we should be doing less of and more of.
Jesus came to show us the futility of religion and to free people from it. He came to end a religion that had become behavior focused. So many think that Christianity, or most religions, is about a behavior improvement process. The truth is that, because of grace, God actually changes our very nature. Grace and mercy don't mean that God tolerates our sin, it means that God completely removes our sin: past, present, and future.
It doesn’t mean we won’t sin; we will, and the guilt we feel isn’t really guilt. Instead, the remorse we feel is because a specific sin action isn’t consistent with our new nature. We when come to Christ, “we are made right with God” (Gal 3:24). If we continue to try and find favor with God with our behavior, we make the cross useless (Heb 10).
After an encounter with Christ, the only “law” or rule we have to be concerned about is to love God and love people (Gal 5). We are free from rules. We are free from laws. There is no value in trying to act religious.
When we try to be religious…we are saying Christ's work wasn’t good enough to make us good. We are free. We are forgiven, for forever.
Now just love and demonstrate the incredible grace and good news we have experienced from God.